EUGENE, Ore. — Step into Cornbread Cafe and it’s like a blast from the past. Not only does the building date back to the 1940s, but it’s decorated with space age Jetsons flare.
Just as she did with the building, the cafe’s owner Sheree Walters is taking an old idea — an all-vegan menu — and adding a twist.
“The goal is to make food that tastes good, well-balanced food that anyone can eat,” she said.
Cornbread got its start in 2010 as a food cart parked at 13th and Oak.
“That was kind of our test market,” Walters explained.
The menu apparently passed the test with items like the Eugenewich. It’s a Southern-fried tofu patty with melted Daiya cheddar, deep-fried carrot slices, hand-breaded onion rings, lettuce and tomato with a smoky sauce on a grilled Bread Stop bun.
It’s one of the menu items that draws in customers, but it also creates some challenges when it comes to sourcing ingredients locally.
“Our base menu is pretty set. We’re still going to have tomatoes on our sandwiches in the winter and those aren’t going to come from here,” said Walters.
When she can’t find the produce she needs locally, she gets local help to find it for her. Cornbread recently started working with Groundwork Organics, a local distributor of locally grown produce.
“We order most of our produce through Organically Grown, which is great because it’s a local company,” Walters said. “We use Surata organic tofu. That’s a local company and it feels good to go through them.”
By working with those local companies, she’s feeding money back into our economy, creating jobs and sustaining a community focused on eating local.
“I think Eugene does a really good job of supporting small local businesses,” she said. “But I think we can do much better.”